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Ara Launches New Cyber Security Course In 2021

Ara Institute of Canterbury limited will be offering students within its Enterprise & Digital Innovation Department access to a highly-regarded ‘Cyber Security’ programme in 2021.

The programme, developed by Unitec and supported by CCL and Datacom, will be presented as a Level 6 ‘New Zealand Diploma in Cybersecurity’, and is New Zealand’s first ‘cyber-qualification’ at the pre-degree level, and the first offered in the South Island.

Unitec describes ‘cyber security’ as "the term given for systems designed to protect networks, computers, programs and data from attack or unauthorised access." The protocols that cyber-security experts develop work to stop the theft of personal information and other data, protect intellectual property and other proprietary information and works to keep confidential government information private.

The course, which has proven very successful since it was first offered at Unitec in March this year, is extremely timely in terms of both the problem it seeks to address and the qualified professionals currently available to tackle it. Cyber-crime is globally on the rise, with data breaches, hacks and hacking attempts all regularly making headlines, and with increasing amounts of data being stored in clouds and ever-more economic activity undertaken online, the potential repercussions of a major cyber-incursion increases in lockstep.

At the same time, the number of professionals who work to prevent and ameliorate the damage caused by a cyber-attack is, disturbingly, not keeping up with the threat level. There is currently a global shortage of trained personnel in this area, and this reality is becoming ever more of an issue for businesses.

Ara’s new cyber security programme will give learners the complete suite of skills necessary to identify potential weaknesses within existing systems and evaluate vulnerabilities that may emerge during the deployment of novel technologies or systems. Students will undertake risk assessments and employ effective techniques to address security deficiencies. Uniquely, the Cybersecurity Diploma has been developed in conjunction with Industry and as such features an "internship" component where the students spend time each week with cybersecurity employers to augment their training. This internship continues throughout the year of study.

"We’re delighted to be further extending the reach of our Cybersecurity qualification at a time when there’s a real need for skills in this area," said Dila Beisembayeva, Lead, Centre for Digital Innovation and Skills at Unitec. "We highly value our partnership with Datacom which is expanding to help provide employment opportunities for students throughout the country."

Datacom is NZ’s largest cybersecurity services provider, so hiring talented cybersecurity people is a key priority. During 2019 the company worked with UNITEC to develop and enhance the course content, a process which included augmenting the classroom training with exposure to practical cybersecurity operations. In 2020 Datacom began providing internship places and employment for successful interns.

David Eaton, Associate Director Cybersecurity Services from Datacom says "As with most other countries, NZ faces a critical shortage of cybersecurity talent. As part of the National Cybersecurity Strategy, the Cybersecurity Capability Ministerial Taskforce was setup in 2016. We welcome the extension of this Diploma into the South Island and we applaud ARA in making the Diploma available."

Nicoleta Croitoru, head of Datacom’s South Island Cybersecurity Business adds, "From Datacom’s perspective, this is a win-win. The pool of qualified cyber-security experts that are available to us locally will grow significantly, and just as we’re able to help students taking the course to develop top-flight professional skills, graduates will hopefully help us to grow our own team of talent."

Nigel Young, Head of Ara’s Enterprise, Digital and Innovation Department adds "Ara has a continuing commitment to be responsive to the needs of industry, learners and our community. There’s a clear and urgent need for more qualified professionals in this sector, and we’re proud to be offering South Island students a strong platform from which to access the immense opportunities in cyber security. This offering also complements our other programmes with a focus on work-based learning as part of the suite of technology-based qualifications that we offer."

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